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An aviation psychologist evaluates, counsels, and treats aviation workers, including flight crews. To become an aviation psychologist, you will usually need a bachelor's degree in psychology at minimum, though many employers prefer to hire candidates with master's degrees and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) credentials as well. You will also need to learn about the aviation industry and the types of stress workers in this field endure. Additionally, some employers may give preference to individuals with licenses to practice psychology independently.
You will typically need at least a bachelor's degree in psychology to become an aviation psychologist. Such a program usually lasts for about four years and requires the completion of a range of psychology-related courses as well as basic education courses, including science, history, and math. The psychology classes you'll take might include principles of psychology, development in psychology, experimental psychology and social psychology. You may also take such classes as theories of personality, statistics, and community and abnormal psychology.
Though bachelor's degrees are usually necessary when you want to become an aviation psychology, many employers prefer individuals who have graduate-level credentials. For example, if you earn a master's degree in psychology, you may have a better chance of landing a job as an aviation psychologist. These programs usually last for about a year or two and provide the chance to study a range of advanced psychology topics. In fact, you could choose a specific field of psychology to concentrate on in graduate school.
You may also consider seeking a PhD when you want to become an aviation psychologist. While this title isn't critical for all jobs in this field, you may find many employers will consider you more favorably with a PhD. When taking this path to become an aviation psychologist, you can consider studying cognitive psychology, industrial psychology, or social psychology. Other PhD programs in psychology may prove appropriate as well.
Most employers will also want you to have knowledge of the aviation industry when you want to become an aviation psychologist. Many employers will expect you to understand the stresses that accompany work in this field as well as the unique demands associated with aviation jobs. You will also need to understand and sometimes develop suitable methods of evaluating aviation workers. Good communication and interpersonal skills are usually required as well.
If licensing is required in your jurisdiction, you may also have to acquire it before you can become an aviation psychologist. Usually, this involves meeting education requirements and passing an exam. You may have to submit to background and drug testing as well.
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